Forts, Trigs and Castles

For some time I have had a walk planned to bag a couple of Ordnance Survey trig points near Tisbury but I have never fixed a date to do it.  However, whilst out with my walking buddy Mandy last week we were chatting about areas we would like to visit and she mentioned Old Wardour Castle as a spot she had not walked.  The castle formed part of my planned trig route so today we are out to kill two birds with one stone.  

We are joined by our friend Gary, who walked with us last week up Melbury Hill and Win Green.  Having sneaked in an extra hill on that walk Gary has taken close interest in today’s route to ensure he has no unwelcome surprises!   

Today’s starting point is the public car park in Nadder Close, near the village centre (Grid Ref: ST945293).  From the car park we take a footpath that goes between properties and then joins a road where we turn left pass the village football pitch.

We soon cross the River Nadder and on the far side of the river turn left to join a footpath where we almost immediately fork right to follow the path across the railway line close to the station.  Despite being single track this is a section of the mainline that runs from Exeter to London via Salisbury. 

From the railway track the path goes uphill and then besides the northern edge of a field.  In the next field it goes diagonally across towards a minor road.

At the road we turn right and then after a couple of hundred yards take a bridleway on the left and follow this towards Haredene Wood.  The path goes into the woods and then sweeps to the right to reach a junction of paths, here we go to the left and at the next junction of paths go right towards Whitmarsh Wood.

At a junction of paths in the wood we go right to head uphill and then as we leave the trees turn right along a field margin.  To the south there are views across to Cranborne Chase.

The path takes us to a track which leads into the Iron Age hill fort of Castle Ditches.  Here we take a diversion from the footpath to visit the sizeable fort which covers over 24 acres.  On the far side of the fort is an Ordnance Survey trig pillar, this is the 264th I have bagged.

Sitting high on the hill the fort would have commanded a fine view of the surrounding countryside. Now much of the hill is surrounded by trees but towards the north edge some have been felled which gives an indication of how unwanted visitors would have been spied from some distance away.

Returning to the footpath we turn right and almost immediately head south across a field to reach Swallowcliffe Wood.  At the edge of the wood at a crossing of paths we continue straight on towards Swallowcliffe.

On entering the village we pass the village hall and then turn right at a junction and then after a short distance turn left at a small village green.  This is the site of the original St Peter’s Church which was built in the 12th century at the lowest point in the village besides the stream.  Unfortunately the church flooded  and by 1840 it was declared unsafe and a new church built higher up.

Continuing up the hill we pass the Royal Oak pub, apparently this is a former tannery which closed in the mid 1800’s and became a pub.  The pub closed in 2007 but a consortium of villagers purchased it and it reopened in 2015.  In 2020 the pub gained national coverage when the TV presenter James May became a part owner.

The road now takes us to St Peter’s Church built in 1843 to replace the earlier church lower down in the village.  

From the church we take a footpath almost opposite and head uphill to Green Close Copse and then drop down into Ansty where we turn left and pass the village pond.  A dam was constructed in the 1700’s to enlarge the pond and it is now an attractive feature in this village.

Just after the pond is the St James’ Church parts of which are thought to date back to 1210, but most of it was rebuilt and added to in the 14th and 19th century.

The font in the church apparently dates from the 1100’s.

After stopping for elevenses on a bench in the churchyard we resume our walk by returning past the pond and then turn left on a lane signposted to Ansty Coombe.  We soon pass the former Maypole Inn which closed in the 1990’s and is now a private residence. 

This lane goes steadily uphill and we ignore two lanes on the right, then shortly after the second we take a footpath on the right,  Almost immediately at a fork in the path we go left and continue uphill into Twelve Acre Copse.  In the trees the path continues uphill to reach a track where we turn left.

Now the path continues through the trees and we go straight on at a junction of paths and follow a fenced path towards Old Wardour Castle.

The path leads into woods and descends towards the castle.  We get the occasional glimpse of the ruined structure as we descend.  

In 1393 King John granted permission to Baron Lovell for the construction of a castle here.  The Lovell family fell after supporting the Lancastrian’s in the War of the Roses and the castle was confiscated in 1461 and changed hands a few times before being purchased in 1544 by Sir Thomas Arundell.  He was executed for treason in 1552 and the castle confiscated.  However his son Sir Matthew Arundell regained the castle in 1570.  

During the English Civil War the Arundell’s were Royalists and Thomas Arundell supported the King and left his wife and a 25 man garrison to defend the castle.  On 2nd May 1643 the Parliamentarian Sir Edward Hungerford arrived with 1,300 men and demanded entry to search for Royalists. Lady Blanche Arundell refused entry so a five day siege ensued which caused significant damage to the castle.  Eventually Lady Arundell surrendered but by this time the castle was inhabitable.

I have not been here for over fifty-five years and have little recollection of the site apart from playing around parts of the ruins.  The site is now managed by English Heritage and not a lot can been see without paying the entrance fee.  We take a footpath going around a wall beside a lake.

The path goes around the lake and then at a junction of paths we turn right and follow a path across fields to Wardour Castle.

This house has an interesting history. It was built in 1776 for the Arundell family with generations living there until 1944.  It was then leased to the Society of Jesus before being taken over in 1956 by the Leonard Cheshire Foundation who used it to house beneficiaries. In 1961 it became the home of Cranborne Chase School and then in 1992 it was sold and converted into flats.

The footpath goes in front of the house and on reaching a junction of paths we go left heading west towards Westfield Farm.  After crossing a track we go across a field to reach Park Pond and then continue on to Park Gate Farm where we fork left and follow a footpath heading south into Donhead St Andrew.

At a road junction we go straight over and walk through the village to pass the Forester Pub which is being rethatched.  Originally called the New Inn this building has been a pub since the 17th century.

At a road junction in the village we turn right to pass St Andrew’s Church which has 12th century origins but over the centuries has had a number of alterations including the rebuilding of the tower in the 1800’s.  Apparently one of the four bells in the tower dates back to the 15th century.  Much to Mandy’s annoyance this church is locked.

We now continue along the lane and on reaching a footpath on the left take this going through a gate to follow the footpath past a pond.

At a junction of paths we turn right and head towards Donhead St Mary and enter the village by walking besides an apple orchard of Donhead Apples, apparently this company, set up in 2011, makes award winning cider.  I have never enjoyed drinking cider and whilst living in Taunton witnessed the impact on folk having a night out drinking the apple.

At a minor road we turn left and then almost immediately right to reach St Mary’s church.  This is another church with 12th century origins and over the centuries it has been significantly enlarged.  After the disappointment of not being able to get into St Andrew’s church Mandy now spots an open door and is keen to visit.

The font dates back to the 12th century and the Historic England website describes it as drum like in design.

Continuing our walk we head west through the village and gradually go uphill to a junction of lanes where there is a well house.  Apparently it became derelict and then through the initiative of a couple of people interested in sacred wells work was undertaken to restore the building and the well.

From the well we take the left fork along a lane called North Down and follow this to pass North Down Farm and then reach a gateway to Castle Rings Iron Age hillfort.  Apparently in 1985 a metal detectorist dug up a hoard of stater coins at this fort and after trying to sell them to the Salisbury and Wiltshire Museum was prosecuted and fined for looting an ancient monument.

We continue along the road to a junction and then turn right and follow the road signposted towards Semley.  On reaching woodland we join a footpath on the right and follow a path through the trees.  Rather bizarrely there is a discarded boat in this woodland.

Keeping with the path close to the eastern edge of the woods we reach the Tittle Path Hill Ordnance Survey trig pillar.  Sadly this trig has been subjected to some graffiti, it is a new trig for me bringing my total to 265.

Continuing along the path through the trees we soon start to descend to a minor road and turn right to Gutch Common.  At a junction we turn left and then at a fork in the lane keep left and follow the lane towards Oysters Farm.  Shortly before reaching the farm we take a bridleway on the right that goes east towards a minor road where we turn left and head north. At a junction we fork right and then at a junction with a B road we cross and join a footpath opposite which heads downhill to cross the River Sem.

We then cross the railway line and continue along a track to reach a minor road where we turn right to Bratch Farm.

After the farm buildings we reach a junction and turn left and head uphill and then take a footpath on the right which crosses fields to pass the southern side of Ham Wood.  Then at junction of paths on the edge of Bottom Copse we turn left and head towards Newtown.

On reaching a road we are chatting away and turn left.  After about half a mile we realise we should have turned right, however, we work out it is now just about the same distance if we continue along the road and pass Pythouse Farm and then turn right to go along a lane at the edge of Pythouse Plantation.  As we reach the entrance to a chicken farm we rejoin the route we should have been on.  There is an Ordnance Survey Trig Pillar just over the fence in the field with the chickens, so it is easy to bag without having to enter the field.

Our route is now back along the road to reach a junction where we cross and follow a path into White Mead Wood.  Walking through the woods we pass a chap going in the opposite direction.  Mandy engages him in conversation and discovers that he visits the woods regularly to measure the size of an ancient oak tree.  Apparently the tree is over 800-years old.

We keep our eyes peeled and spot the tree and it is certainly impressive.

We reach a road and cross to follow a footpath beside Oddford Brook.  Gary has been tracking our walk.  When we set off I said it was going to be an eighteen-mile route.  He has started to get twitchy because we have exceeded that distance and there is still no sign of Tisbury. Last week I told him we were only walking up one hill and then added an ascent of Win Green, so he is worried about how far we will be walking today!

At the point where Gary was considering calling Lowland Rescue  we reach the outskirts of Tisbury  and follow the roads through the village to reach our starting point.  Our walk has covered twenty-one miles, further than planned but purely due to taking a couple of interesting diversions along the way.

You can view this 21-mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here

To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map OL118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase

29th July 2021

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)

All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it.  To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk.  It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.